Glover Park Day 2016: Blues and Funk Hold Back the Rain Gods
Glover Park (GP) is surely one of Northwest D.C.’s coziest, most verdant ‘bedroom communities.’ Every year, their citizens’ association throws a bash to commemorate the glories of Glover on the first Saturday in June. Nature, of course, is especially tricky this time of the year, so there have been rainouts.
This year’s event was set for the 4th of the month, and the cumulus-cloaked dawn boded uneasy. But the loyal “Elves” of the GP Committee, went about their setup work dutifully; bonded with faith that the show would indeed go on.
Indeed it did, with JC Veve and Boom Chucks (his old-timey trio minus the usual leader: gentle
jazz diva Esther Haynes) kicking things off promptly at 11 a.m. He mellowed the early arrivals—parents, kids and doggies galore– with his unique and fluid stylings on the classic National Steel guitar.
Accompanied by his partners on string bass and mandolin, JC carried the listener into a far-off time of straw hats and ragtime beats. My personal favorite was surely “Winin’ Boy,” a great Jelly Roll Morton standard (covered some years back by “Hot Tuna”).
Next was my group, with a regional popularity: Etufe. Since adding lead guitarist Jackie Lee and radio hostess and vocalist Ida Campbell (from WPFW-FM 89.3); Etufe has significantly expanded its Big Easy repertoire (New Orleans, with a heavy dose of ‘Fats’ and ‘Satch’). Now, with Ida’s robust songs, you get a nice spoonful of soul and funk, somewhere between Carolina spice and Motown “fonk.”
The third band was Crush Funk Brass organization, a vigorous septet of mighty young horns-men, with a lead-foot drummer whose back beat is simply foolproof! They are new to the festival, but have been doing a series of nocturnes on monthly Fridays in Guy Mason playground for a few months now. Quite the neighborhood treat! Their lively ‘rep’ ran the gamut—all flawlessly executed for such a young aggregation—from Herbie Hancock’s
“Chameleon” to “I Wanna be Your Lover,” by the late lamented PRINCE!”
One of the longest-tenured acts on the bill (with which this writer has had more than passing acquaintance), the Unforgiven/Good Times Band, really turned the place on its ear, with their sometimes loosely arranged, but always faithful renditions of Rock ‘n’ Roll standards. Today’s standouts would have to have been “MY GIRL” and “SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL,” as belted forth by their singer Rob “Powerhouse” Johnson-look, the audience even affirmed to him back off of “Can I Get A Witness–YEAH??” Also of note was ‘Fenderman’ Rick
Kanton’s blistering solo on “BLACK MAGIC WOMAN”, originally by Santana (though written by Peter Green)!
The final act, a genuine barn-burner of talent, had to wait for the last face-painting of toddlers, door-prize win announcements by the genial “Pooh-Bah,” and a wall of Nimbus clouds that prompted Marianna Previti, leader of the closing combo “Smokin’ Polecats,” to affirm “We won’t let it rain ’til we’re through!” Thereupon, a cascade of unbelievably sweet vocalizing from Marianna and gold-framed Les Paul sting-bending from Dave Sherman– and some chunky harp blowing by Roger Edsall blessed us all–we were truly in R&B Heaven.
How could you pick “Off The Wall” over “Scratch My Back;” or “Baby I Love You,” over “Jump, Jive and Wail?” Final answer? Ms. Previti’s celestial rendering of the iconic Etta James hit “AT LAST,” was the deal-breaker. Old man Thor had to lay his rain-clouds’ hammer down for another hour at least, by which time the stage was down, and all the good people were safely bound for home.